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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award shortlist: Fiona Scott

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Fiona Scott is founder of Gort Scott

Fiona Scott co-founded Gort Scott in 2007. This year Gort Scott’s Cambridge Cat Clinic was shortlisted for AJ Small Projects; in 2012 she contributed to the Venice Biennale. Scott is a member of the London Mayor’s Design Panel. Current projects include a public realm scheme for Bankside, studies of employment land in Haringey, and the construction of offices for Jesus College, Cambridge.

Why did you become an architect?

I was inspired by my aunt Celia Scott, an architect and sculptor. And I was always endlessly fascinated by London, where I grew up – its processes, scale, buildings and places.

What is your design ethos?

Work with what is already there.  Appreciate what is valuable. And then bring something new to the place.

Which women architects inspire you?

Lina Bo Bardi is my architect heroine because she made heroic spaces that could be the background for very everyday needs and desires. She understood what was important about existing conditions and understood how much better places are when lived-in. Grafton Architects make beautiful, strong buildings. Alison Smithson has inspired me with her observation and documentation.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects?

Mostly it would be the same to aspiring male architects: start networking at university and don’t stop. But especially for women? Cultivate your own brand of self-confidence.

Why do you think women leave the profession?

Time is important to balance family and work. Because our time is under-valued given the risk and skill involved, we have to work more hours than we probably should to make ends meet and this is not always compatible with other aspects of life.

What do you think would make them stay?

Remuneration in line with comparable professions; flexible or shorter hours.

House for two artists

House for two artists

Place of study Cambridge University and Royal College of Art
Current projects Offices for Jesus College, Cambridge; public WCs for the London Borough of Brent; public realm project for Bankside, London Borough of Southwark; research into employment uses in the Upper Lea Valley
Clients A three-way split at the moment between London boroughs, commercial clients and private residential clients. Key clients in those sectors recently are the boroughs of Waltham Forest, Brent and Southwark; Jesus College; actor Cillian Murphy

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